How To Fly With Twin Infants
If you’re flying with twin infants soon and you’re looking for tips, then you’ve come to the right place! I’m sure you ALL have the same exact question…
“What’s the most important item to pack for my twins’ first plane ride?”
The answer is: your sense of humor. You really need to pack your sense of humor. Oh, and make sure to stuff it in the front zipper of your carry-on for easy access. In my opinion, while flying had it’s own challenges, I overall preferred flying than driving long-distance road trips in the car with twin infants.
If you’ve been following along, then you know in the Summer of 2018 my husband and I drove a ridiculous number of hours from Texas to Florida for the twins’ first vacation. And we shared all of the details you ever wanted to know about that road trip. Well, 2 weeks after that, we hopped on a plane and took the twins for their FIRST plane ride from Texas to San Diego for a second vacation! It was a ~3-hour flight from DFW to SAN. Before our trip, I researched and called on many other twin parents for travel advice. And now, I’m here to tell you everything I learned!
What to pack for the airplane
You already know what to put in diaper bags for any other day. But, there are some extra items that I found helpful to have in my diaper bag/carry-on.
1. Wet wipes – Did you know that the tray tables and belts are the dirtiest parts of the plane seats? Think about all those other unwashed hands buckling themselves in… or those dirty diapers that sat on the tray table on the flight before yours. I kept these wipes in the front zipper of the diaper bag and wiped down the TV screen, the tray table, the seat, the belt, the armrest. Basically everything. If you’ve got enough people and the airlines agree, it’s not a bad idea for someone in your party to board the plane before you to wipe everything down so it’s ready to go when you and the babies get to your seat (added bonus: this also reduces the time you’re on the plane with babies, too). By the way, you’ll also want these wipes for when your twins throw their toys down on the dirty ground 1,000,000 times.
2. Ziploc Freezer Bags – I used these re-sealable bags as my “trash can” during the flight. I put dirty diapers, wipes, and other disposable items in there. The re-sealable part comes in handy if you have a smelly diaper!
3. New and quiet toys – If you want to distract the twins during the flight, it’s not a bad idea to have something they’ve never seen before for them to explore. But, since we don’t want to be THAT family with the obnoxious kids, it’s worth considering quiet toys that don’t rattle or play songs. :)
4. iPads with baby shows – Some planes have a TV screen on the back of the seat in front of you that can play kids shows. However, we kept our two iPads handy just in case that wasn’t an option. Distractions are going to be your best friend on the plane!
5. Bottles and snacks – When you travel, feeding schedules are likely to get messed up. We kept formula powder and snack pouches on hand. We used Munchkin Formula Dispensers (one pink and one blue) to store formula powder (each divider holds 4 scoops of formula (which makes ~8 oz). Easy, compact, and no-mess way to travel with formula. We bought bottled water in the airport to mix. Breastfeeding is pretty straight forward-- but, if you’re pumping on the plane, here is a link to another blog that offers tips about that.
6. Extra clothes for you and the twins – You never know when someone might have a blowout or a spit up. The last thing you want to do on a stressful travel day is carry around two messy babies.
Making it through the airport with twins
I discovered some surprising details about navigating the airport with two babies through many tips I received from asking other twin parents and, well…from living it. Here are some helpful tidbits I picked up:
1. You need to put your car seats and stroller into a special bag. – These bags protect your items from damage. We bought these red bags made by J.L. Childress, one for each car seat. You can purchase them here on Amazon for under $15. As for the stroller, we got the bag that was special made for the Uppababy stroller. It was rather expensive, so I would recommend just buying the very affordable stroller cover bag also made by J.L. Childress here.
2. You might not be able to bring your double stroller past security – That’s right. I rolled up to the airline check-in thinking I was going to be able to stroll around the airport pushing the kids to our gate and then gate-check it. Nope. We found out at the last minute that we couldn’t. If you fly American Airlines, they do not allow strollers >20 pounds to be gate checked. The G-Link Uppababy double umbrella stroller that we brought? 25 pounds. Check with your airline to see their restrictions or you’ll be carrying heavy babies around through the crowds like we were. By the way, umbrella strollers (with side by side seats) are easier to travel with than the front/back strollers. They’re lighter and more easily collapsible.
3. Checking car seats – You usually check car seats when you’re checking the rest of your luggage before you go through security. Depending on your stroller type, you might be checking your stroller at that same time. However, if you've bought an extra seat or two on the airplane for the twins, then you will need to ensure you have FAA approved car seats to bring on board with you.
4. Bring extra hands – If you’re in the same boat as we were and unable to bring your stroller past security, then you will want help. When we flew, we had 5 adults and the twins. We rotated holding the babies a good amount to avoid burnout. Looking back, I know I 100% could NOT have flown alone with the two babies. I needed at least 1 extra adult to help.
5. Proof of identity – Shockingly, babies may need to be able to show proof of identity/age just like the rest of us. Birth certificates, immunization records, and passports are typically acceptable forms. Some airlines require original copies, while others accept photocopies. If you get lucky like we did, then you might not be asked to show anything! I brought their original birth certificates, but never had to take them out. This is something you’ll want to research, though, to see what your airline requires.
6. Going through X-ray machine in security—My husband and I each carried a baby through the X-ray machine with no problems.
7. Bringing baby food, formula, and/or breastmilk – Per the TSA, you are allowed to bring baby solids, formula, and breastmilk in “reasonable quantities” over the usual 3.4 oz rule. So, basically, bring whatever you need to get you through your travel day and it won’t be an issue. We brought containers of formula, just enough for 3 bottles each and 6-8 containers of baby solids. We let the security personnel know, put it through the X-RAY machine, took it out for them to examine it, and they let us go with no hassle.
1. Babies fly free – Most airlines, like American, allow 1 lap baby <2 years old per ticketed passenger to fly for free. They also allow you to check 1 stroller and 1 car seat per ticketed passenger. So, if you have 2 ticketed adults and twin infants, then you’re not paying a penny for your twins to fly or their 2 car seats and their stroller to be checked.
2. Book a direct flight – The ascent and descent are said to be the toughest parts for babies as it can hurt their ears with the pressure changes and cause them to be fussy. The less takeoffs and landings, the better.
3. What to do during takeoff and landing – If you offer your twins a bottle OR a pacifier during the ascent and descent, then the sucking motion will help the pressure in their ears normalize. Word on the street is that the descent is worse for babies, so if you have to choose when to time a bottle, do it during descent. In our case, because of the timing of the feeds, we used the pacifier going up and when the descent started (about 20-30 min prior to landing), we offered bottles. Both babies were completely stellar with this. Not one cry during either takeoff or landing!
4. Dress twins in footie pajamas – I did this to limit the spread of germs and to keep them warm as plane temperatures always seem to be cold inside in my experience.
5. Sit in an aisle seat – You’ll want to have easy access to walking down the airplane if someone gets antsy during the flight or if you have to go to the lavatory to change diapers. Also, this might help you get off the plane a little faster.
6. Twins have to be separated into different rows – I didn’t know this until a few months ago. You can’t have 2 babies in the same row because of the number of oxygen masks. For example, if you have two parents, twins, and a stranger sitting in a row of 3 seats, you’ll be short one oxygen mask (4 masks for 5 people). The ideal situation is to sit aisle-aisle with your travel partner where each of you holds a baby. If that’s not an option, then sit one row in front of the other so you can trade toys and babies, as needed.
7. Diaper changes on the plane – This can be tricky depending on the number of people you know in your row. When we flew, I sat in one row with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law and with me in the aisle seat holding one twin. My husband sat in the aisle seat directly behind me with the other twin and then my father-in-law to the left of him. Whenever either twin had a wet diaper, I would lay them across my lap and change right there. I put a changing pad (kept in my diaper bag) underneath the baby during the change to keep things clean. If it was a dirty diaper, then my husband took them to the airplane bathroom, closed the toilet lid and sat down with the twin across his lap. Seemed reasonable to spare the nearby strangers of anything smelly. Had my row's seat mates been strangers, I would have changed all diapers (wet or dirty) in the bathroom for common courtesy.
8. Nap in arms – This was tough because I don’t usually like for either baby to nap in anyone’s arms. That said, they aren’t really used to it and would fight the nap a little. Eventually, though, both babies got their normal length naps while on the plane. My husband and I would rock them forward and backward in our seats, pat their backs, use pacifiers, etc. until they finally snoozed.
While every airline is different, you’ll want to do your research on whichever airline you’re flying. If you follow these tips above, though, then I'm confident you will have a pretty smooth flight experience like we did!
It's all worth it to get to that much-needed vacation spot. Good luck!